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Giving it all away and the path to being a Jedi. (The Purge Part 4)

Take this piece of musing any way you care to but I always been of the belief that no matter where a piece of information, or advice comes from it can still have meanings. It comes back to my belief in learning the truth for yourself. Regardless of the source, things can effect you fundamentally. I’ve always been struck on the part of Return of the Jedi, where Luke goes to see Yoda for the last time and during their conversation, Yoda tells him that his not a Jedi yet and must face Vader again. Only then will he be a Jedi. Why?

Luke’s path in Star Wars is pretty hard. The emotional impact of it is downplayed a lot, but if you sit back and explain it in simple terms, it’s pretty awful. He lives on a remote planet with his Uncle and Aunt, who probably aren’t, they are really his adoptive parents and he has never known his real parents. Then out of the blue, he finds a message that he thinks is for someone he knows, goes to see him and then officers of the oppressive police state in which he lives, murder his adoptive parents and burn his home to the ground. I don’t know about you, but I’d be a little pissed off about that and Luke seems to handle this pretty well.
Next he’s dragged into a civil war, see’s his mentor die, his childhood friend die, makes a few new ones, finds his long lost sister, trains in a weird jungle, gets his hand cut off by his own father and then has to go back, face his father again and the evil ruler of the galaxy probably to die. Phew, tough break dude.

So what does this really mean, and why is it that Luke is not a Jedi till he faces Vader again? It’s his last major piece of mental and emotional baggage that he has to shift in order to be at peace in his mind. It is also an act of sutimei. Giving himself up, completely and freely without fear to perform the perfect cut. That is why he freely walks into the Imperial camp and surrenders himself to them. He has to go face him to finally be free of everything. He’s lost all his material possessions and everyone that was there during his childhood so he has nothing left except the knowledge that maybe, he can save his father from the dark side and his sister. Why do you think he tells Leia that she is his sister? Because he has to do it to release the mental baggage. I also see it in a kind of old world feel like Luke has to become the head of the family and can no longer just follow. He has to lead and thus an actual power struggle between father and son has to take place.
He gives everything to do this and knows that he will either live or die but has accepted that. It is sutimei. The ultimate goal of the rebellion is to crush the empire. Luke’s primary goal is simple. He just wants to try and save his father because without doing this he will never be complete and will not be a Jedi.

I’ve tried to understand this in many ways, but I think it makes sense to everyone. Most of us have some issues with our family and all have those little pieces of baggage that we’d rather we were free of but we push them to one side in order to not have to deal with them and ignore them as just, oh it’s family. You don’t have to consider yourself the head of a family, but with the death of my own Father I feel like I have now taken on that responsibility. I’m the eldest living male of the Beaumont family and as such, have to set an example for my own son to look up to. I can’t do this without facing the internal family issues.

I always equate personal spiritual development to an onion. The outside is dry, cracked and brown. As you peal away the layers, more is revealed that is smoother and fresher than the last. You have to start with the dry, unpleasant layers before the good stuff is reached and you can only peel one layer at a time. The layer you have to peel away is the one that is at the forefront of you mind on a daily basis and as such this can be the burden that obstructs your sense of mushin and fudoshin. When we first started training, our Sensei would simply tell us to leave your worries and baggage at the door. When you are in the Dojo you think only of Kendo.
I think everyone should do this all the time. It’s a state of mind that you can take outside the Dojo and cultivate it there as well.
I know I still have many onion layers to peel before it no longer gets in the way and I feel like my physical development in kendo is much more like a giant wall of pigeon holes which some are already filled. As I learn more the holes are filled more and more, but I know this is an infinite area so concentrating on one a lot more will aid them to be filled better.

I’m not saying you have to become a Jedi, but the personal development messages contained therein are still messages that have a meaning for the real world. If you are a christian, do you look at bible stories and think, that was an amazing thing that really happened or do you look at them as a story with a message? A message that should be easy to understand and apply to your own life.

As part of The Purge, not only have I been trying reconcile all those emotional and mental blocks, i’m trying to sell off as much as possible so I can recoup some money and make space, I’ve also started to give some things away. It’s a really nice thing to just pass something on to someone who wants and will make use of something that has just sat around and done nothing.
Not only that but I am looking a little deeper and trying to purge those mental blocks, the things that cause a little bit of guilt, the unresolved issues that creep up on you at 2 in the morning when you can’t sleep.

Meeting up with one of my friends who I’ve not seen for some time really helped me get some perspective on a few things. I always used to feel that when I met up with people I hadn’t see for some time, I felt like they had been doing loads in the mean time and I was kind of standing still. This is typical for those of us that just have fairly secure 9-5 jobs with not much variation. You settle into your life, doing the day to day stuff. I realised that for me this is no longer the case and the funny thing is that as soon as we started talking, I was almost looking for a way to give him something of mine.

I feel like it’s all starting to come together now. Not only am I unburdening myself of material possessions, I’m purging those mental blocks and now I find my thoughts drifting more and more to my physical well being. Eating a bit healthier, not drinking alcohol and just being more aware of that aspect on things. Kendo is part of it but I feel like it’s all leading to that first part of the purpose.

To mold the mind and body.



Clearing out the clutter. Life, possessions, guilt and Kendo. (The Purge part 1)

Over the course of many months and to be honest, the last 5 years, I’ve been dealing with clearing out the clutter and just the massive amount of worthless stuff I had accumulated over my life. It’s been a mammoth task to fit all this useless stuff into our rather crowded 4 bed detached.

The strange thing is, over time this clearing out has become a kind of central to my way of thinking. My wife has a great phrase to live by just when you’re about to buy something. “Imagine it in 3 months time and you have to dust it.” Pretty soon you realise you don’t need these things and all they become is a source of guilt. Guilt for yourself and for your children, yes, your children. I primarily associate my spiritual side with Buddhist principals and although I don’t follow rigidly I more and more realise the futility of desiring things.

Possessions fall into one of two categories. They are either things that enable you to do things you want to do and improve your life or they are just a source of guilt. All those little nick-nacks, ornaments and things that used to belong to your grandparents, they only bind you down.
Then there those things that are for a hobby that you no longer do, the sketchpad and drawing boards for your brief obsession with drawing. The guitar that you never play but you really want to keep for some reason. The snowboard that you used on one holiday, one visit to the snowdome and then has sat in the shed for the last 3 years.

They bring you guilt for many reasons. They can be something that you feel you should be doing or that you used to do that you think define who you are. But they are not who you are. If they were, you would still be using them and doing that thing. You’re probably doing something else now that you think defines you. This is not true.
You define you and the things you have are because of who you are. We’re a very materialistic bunch in the west and find it hard to judge a persons worth based on non tangible assets. You have to release the guilt and the item associated with that guilt.

The other way they bring you guilt is by it being something that used to belong to someone that you miss or was given as a present. Even if you don’t really like it, you have it because you think you should. You can’t bring yourself to throw it away because you feel guilty about doing it. “Grandma gave that to me.” So what? Grandma didn’t want you to have a load of guilt. You stick it in a box in the loft and then sometime down the line you look through it again and remember who gave it to you, why you should keep it and the guilt propagates again. You pass them on or die and someone has to sort through your boxes of crap. They look at it and keep them because they belonged to you and they care about you. They keep them, then feel guilty about wanting to throw them away.
Never give anyone a present that you know they will not want. Don’t give someone something that you would throw away. Don’t pass on guilt to someone else. Don’t keep loads of little crappy things for someone else to sort through after you die. Better still, don’t buy them in the first place. There is a big difference between what you need and what you want.

I’m still in the middle of ‘The Purge’ as I like to call it. Everything I own is coming under scrutiny and if it is something that brings me guilt it goes. If I haven’t used it for over a year, it goes. Even if it’s something I really, really wanted at the time but have no real use for, it goes.

The cool thing about this was that this way of thinking paid for my first set of Bogu.

Back when our Dojo was still very young and those of us who made up the core of the first intake of Meirinkan reached the level where our sensei said we should get into Bogu, I was feeling a little guilty about the prospect of shelling out £250 on my first set. My wife wouldn’t have been impressed either so I made myself a pact. I had to sell enough stuff to pay for it. The funny thing is, I managed it, in time to get my set at the same time as everyone else and also had some extra money left over. Additionally I have more space in the house, less items that I thought I might need one day, subsequently less guilt and none attached to the Bogu I had just purchased.

I now reach payday and think, “I’ve been paid. I can buy something I really want to. I don’t want anything.” Okay, maybe a really expensive Shinai, but I’m happy with the nice smoked one I got from Nine Circles for my birthday from my wife this year

Guiltless bogu

Guiltless bogu